The news that Roger Lloyd Pack, Trigger in Only Fools and Horse, died without leaving a will and has thus left his family potentially facing a potential six figure Inheritance Tax bill, reminds us all the cost of not making a will is greatly in excess of the cost of making one.
“A simple will could have avoided all of the potential tax due in his estate” comments Andrew Hasnip, Head of Private Client at The Wilkes Partnership. He continues, “The family now appear to be left with a choice of paying the tax or having to take action to avoid/minimise it. Either route will doubtless be more expensive than the cost of making a will. This also assumes everybody will be in agreement as to any potential course of action.”
So what could Roger have done? Andrew advises: “A simple will leaving all his estate to his wife absolutely or under a life interest trust would have avoided all the tax. If he had wished to make some immediate provision for his children, legacies of up to £325,000 could have been left to them. Apparently his estate was over £1.4m so it would appear there is scope for that to have been done.”
To avoid the tax now the family would need to agree to a variation of the rules of intestacy, which detail how a person’s estate passes when they do not make a will. This is not without its pitfalls as Andrew observes: “You can only vary what has been left to you, so if one of the children decides they want to keep their share under his intestacy no one can force them to do otherwise. Further, we await the results of the government’s review of deeds of variation (due next month) to see how far or even if these can be used in the future. Much better to avoid the need for them altogether by having a properly drafted will.”
If you would like any assistance in relation to making a Will, please contact the Partner, Andrew Hasnip or the Will and Probate Team on 0121 233 4333